Georgia Aquarium

Shark and Ray Touch Tank


“The shark and ray touch tank was a very tricky project. Limited space. Noise constraints. Construction challenges. And yet, Tenji always knew just how to handle it. Their Rapid Design Process (RDP) allowed us to approve full drawings and models in just two months—a process that normally takes a year. For an exhibit able to contribute significantly to our Aquarium’s bottom line, that’s a big deal.”


The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, GA houses more than 100,000 animals and several thousand species, all living in ten million gallons of marine and saltwater. From whale sharks to beluga whales, from puffins to pufferfish, the aquarium invites visitors to explore the rich biodiversity and beauty of underwater worlds.

Aquarium staff are always searching for new ways to engage and educate their visitors. When they discovered that guests were walking down a long hallway only to discover that there was nothing there to see, they reached out to Tenji. Together, we turned a dark and disappointing corner of the building into one of their most popular attractions—a shark and stingray touch tank that opened in 2016 to rave reviews from children and adults alike.


  • The designated location for the future shark and ray touch tank was right next to a 6.3 million-gallon exhibit filled with a wide variety of sensitive animals. The Tenji aquatic engineers and construction experts knew we would have to work very, very carefully.
  • The hallway approaching the exhibit location was a natural and unavoidable squeeze point, creating a classic “ship in a bottle challenge” for our engineers and builders. Our aquatic design and construction team would need to fabricate the tanks outside the building, disassemble them to get the pieces through the hallway, and re-assemble them onsite—a true test of design and engineering expertise and one of Tenji’s true specialties.
  • Space for life support system elements and other critical aspects of the project was at a premium, so Tenji engineers were tasked with minimizing space and staffing requirements.
  • And like all high-profile projects for internationally recognized institutions, the exhibit needed to be completed to the highest quality both on time and on budget.


Our experienced in-house design and engineering teams designed the Tenji proprietary Rapid Design Process (RDP) to solve problems, share our vision, save time and resources, and ensure successful outcomes—fast. No one can take a project from dream to reality as quickly without sacrificing quality as seamlessly as Tenji, and for this project in particular, the cost savings were significant.

Our aquatic artists and engineers turned detailed drawings into a fully realized 3D model of the shark and ray touch tank in mere months. Able to see engaging, impeccable designs in context, staff could make decisions quickly and with confidence—and the prototypes generated real enthusiasm from donors and supporters.

Pre-constructed offsite by our skilled in-house artisans and builders, the components of the touch tank and life support systems were carefully (and quietly) delivered through the Museum entrance and hallway to be re-constructed and completed onsite. Once the exhibit was complete, our marine biologists worked closely with staff to responsibly source species and introduce them to their new home in a healthy way.

Tenji designed and built:

  • a touch pool designed to be accessible to visitors of all ages and physical abilities. Accessible design touches like a shorter perimeter around the edges of the pool allow little children and guests in wheelchairs to get close enough to fully experience the exhibit. Viewing panels placed along the edges of the exhibit also enhance the views.
  • a tank expertly designed for animal comfort. Tenji engineers designed a 30-minute turnover rate to keep the water crystal clean for little hands.
  • an exhibit carefully designed for ease of maintenance that exceeds AZA standards for animal safety.

It turns out that lots of people want to touch a shark. While our first collaboration with the Georgia Aquarium was a smaller pocket exhibit, the shark and ray touch tank punched way above its weight and rapidly became a star attraction. Convinced of the power of tenji, Georgia has gone on to work with our team on jellyfish labs, the refresh of older exhibits, and more.